Degradation of Radio Standard – Southern North Sea

30th April 2004

Degradation of Radio Standard - Southern North Sea

Initial Report

### (A company managing offshore facilities) is implementing a policy to reduce offshore radio operators on manned platforms in Southern North Sea.  Platform AAA now has no radio operator and the flight watch responsibilities are held at the moment by Platform BBB when in range, then onto standby vessels (various).

On numerous occasions on this flight standard calls by our aircraft went unanswered by the watch holder.

I believe this is a safety issue as the holding of the flight watch is a very important job.  When out of communications with ### Radar, this is our safety net and a downgrade such as this is a move in the wrong direction as regards safety.  Problems such as obtaining onshore weather reports when on a fuel stop with no radio operator will also add to the problems in the future I’m sure.

This caused excessive fatigue and was a distraction throughout the flight particularly throughout the landing and takeoff phase.

*****

In response to a number of confidential reports through CHIRP‘s Air transport Programme and other information detailing similar communications difficulties in the Northern North Sea, the CAA put in place a safety initiative, in conjunction with NATS and UKOOA, to establish additional re-broadcasting transmitters so as to provide complete RTF cover at 1,000ft in the relevant areas.  These improvements have been agreed and are being introduced.

The reporter’s concerns regarding the Southern North Sea have been represented to CAA (SRG) to permit them to be followed up.

This report appeared in Air Transport FEEDBACK, No: 69 and may be relevant to maritime operations in the North Sea, particularly to the extent that responsibilities have been or may be delegated to stand-by vessels.

CHIRP is not aware of any particular concerns in this area at the moment, but one transport mode’s solution could be another’s problem, so we have included this report for information.

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